I started my morning appointments today with an itchy Bulldog. Not remarkable, most Bulldogs are itchy. The thing that was interesting about this gal was that she was the fifth dog this week that was infested with fleas. Crawling with them and this owner had bites on his ankles and legs. Yet, he was still surprised when we showed him the little critters jumping all over his pet. He was shocked because the dog never left the yard except to go on an occasional walk, and being a bulldog, and the weather being what it has been the past few weeks, those walks have been short and few. So, how could this dog have fleas? Here’s the deal, they are out there. They are everywhere. The mild winter and hot humid summer has been a bonanza for the fleas. We are seeing fleas every day, and there is no reason for our pets to suffer.
Now, I’ve been in this business for a long time. I spent many vacations in the seventies bathing and dipping dogs with the nastiest bunch of toxic chemicals in an effort to keep pets flea free. We bathed, dipped, sprayed and powdered our pets with pyrethrins, organophosphates, and all sorts of nasty chemicals. When that failed, we bombed our house with chemical foggers, spread powders in the rugs, or called in professionals every couple of weeks to try to eradicate those little blood suckers from our homes. Flea prevention was unlikely to be very successful. Flea treatment was the norm.
Fortunately, that is not the case anymore. Starting with the topical products containing Fipronil (Frontline and Frontline Plus) in the 90’s, we now had a group of relatively safe and effective options to prevent flea and tick infestations in dogs and cats. From that point on,simple, regular applications of a product made it possible to keep our pets flea free and prevent the nasty home infestations that required chemical warfare in our living environment. As consumers demanded better, less obtrusive products, and as fleas and ticks started to develop resistance to the older chemicals, newer collars and oral products have come to market.
Now, there is no need to worry about our pets becoming flea infested. I put a Seresto collar on my Bella in March when ticks first became active in our area and she has not had a single flea or tick all season long. I’ll replace it next month and neither of us will need to worry about nasty bugs all year long.
That’s what makes my second appointment of the morning so frustrating. The patient was a less than friendly Sheba Inu. Now, if you know the breed, then you know that being unfriendly is actually normal. You probably also know that their coats are really dense. You couldn't find a flea on a Sheba if your life depended on it. Due to this dog’s temperament, the owner told me that it spends a large part of its day out in the yard. I could not believe how hard it was for me to convince him to pick up a single dose of Bravecto, an oral flea and tick medication,which would protect his dog from these parasites and keep his home safe for three months as well. He went back and forth hemming and hawing about how the dog never leaves the yard. (Sounds like the Bulldog, no?). Finally, when he thought about needing to get an exterminator in if the dog became flea infested, he took the product. Wise move, don’t you think?
So, here’s the low down. There are several very good options for flea prevention in dogs and cats. If any of your pets go outside,all of the pets in the home should be on some sort of flea control this time of year.
- Seresto collar: I already stated that this is my preference. Life is hectic, fleas are fast. One collar will give up to 8 months (I trust it for 6) of protection against fleas and ticks on dogs or cats.
- Comfortis: The best-selling flea product in the United States. This once a month pill will start killing fleas in 30 minutes. It can be used in dogs and cats. In fact, my clients that feed outdoor cats put the pill in some food to help keep the flea population down in their colonies. Remember, if the outdoor cats that you are feeding are flea infested, your yard will be flea infested.
- Simperica: Zoetis animal health’s newest addition to the oral flea and tick control market. This drug is the same class as Bravecto and Nexgard but more effective. One chew a month will prevent fleas and ticks on dogs.
Combine one of these products with an effective monthly parasite control product and your pets and home will be safe all year round. Now isn’t that easier than getting an exterminator in to rid your house of the bugs?